A 79-year-old alliance is back with its rightful family.
On Saturday, Annette Sharp of St. Helena Parish and her grandson, Austin Worsham, 13, met with Ray Jackson Jr. of Grayson in Pineville to return the ring.
Jackson is the nephew of the late Charles W. and Lucille Jackson Shultz who own the ring.
Sharp hoped that sharing the story of an engraved 1942 wedding ring found in her mother’s home would help her reunite with the family that originally owned her and return a piece of their history. The Town Talk published the story in October.
There were a few twists and turns before figuring out and figuring out who the ring should go to. The Shultzes are deceased.
Lucille left all of her belongings to Jackson.
“Lucille was my father’s sister,” he said.
Jackson said it was very noble for Sharp to go out of his way to find family members to return the ring. “And wanting to return the ring to the family. I think that speaks for itself about the kind of person Ms. Sharp is.”
Sharp was cleaning up 60 years of stuff in his mother’s house in Echo when Austin discovered the ring mixed with a bunch of coins in a plastic bag.
How it all began:Woman seeks return of 1942 wedding ring to owner’s family
The ring is engraved with the initials “CWS” and “LJS” and the wedding date is 12-4-42.
Before finding out about the Shultze, Sharp assumed the last letter of the initials was an “L”. Many Echo families have last names beginning with “L”, so Sharp figured he could be Lacombe, Lambert, or Lachney.
“I looked at the initials there and met all of our family historians, if you will, and no one could place them with a family member,” Sharp said in a previous interview.
A niece of Lucille’s second husband, Lewell Autrey, who lives in Pineville, saw an article about the ring in The Town Talk and called it up. He then connected with Sharp.
Maynard Dean of Shreveport helped solve the ring mystery. He found a wedding announcement in The Town Talk archives as well as another 1985 article about a car crash in which Charles was killed and Lucille seriously injured.
Charles and Lucille were married in a single-ring ceremony on December 4, 1942, at 1227 Magnolia St., Alexandria.
This year would have marked the couple’s 79th wedding anniversary.
The couple loved friends, family, fishing
Sharp spoke to Jackson and Lucille’s daughter-in-law, Vicki Ann Suire, to gather information on the couple.
Charles was a US Army sergeant stationed at Fort Livingston. He was born on May 15, 1920 in Berwick, Pennsylvania. to John and Thelma Shultz. He was one of five children, the others being Faye, Dale, Helen and James. All are dead.
Lucille Pauline Jackson was born January 15, 1915 in Little Rock, Ark., To Wayne E. Jackson Sr. and Hattie Jackson. Lucille had three brothers: Richard, Wayne Jr. and Ray. The family moved to Alexandria when Lucille was a young girl.
Charles met Lucille at a USO ball. Shortly after they met, they married, said Charles left for World War II soon after.
“They hurried to get married before he left,” she said.
They had a son, John Wayne Shultz, Suire’s late husband, who died in 1990. John Wayne and Suire had no children.
“They were totally, totally committed to each other,” Suire said. “They loved me as much as they loved John Wayne. They were good people. You couldn’t have found better people. They treated me almost better than they treated their son.”
After Charles’ return from World War II, they moved to the Groves area, located near Port Arthur / Beaumont, Texas; Charles worked for Gulf Oil Refinery as an operator.
Jackson’s father, Ray Sr., also worked there as a welder.
Jackson grew up with his cousin John Wayne in Groves as families lived one street apart. They met regularly for barbecues or had dinner together on Saturdays or Sundays.
The Shultze, especially Lucille, loved to fish and fished most of his activities with John Wayne and Vicki at Sabine Lake in Port Arthur, Texas. They fished for points, rockfish, drums, sheep heads – whatever was in the lake.
“Lucille could have fished from daylight to dark,” Suire recalls. “And she loved white perch fishing the most. I called her ‘Miss Perch.’
“That’s what I called her,” she said. “No one other than me did.”
The Shultze loved to go dancing and go out to good dinners, Suire said; or sometimes go to the movies.
They also bought and regularly used a caravan. Suire said she and John Wayne would join them for the weekends at places like Harlingen, Texas; Colorado or Las Vegas. The Shultze also visited Dam B at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in eastern Texas or Toledeo Bend for camping and fishing.
“They had a lot of friends,” Suire said. “They would sometimes go camping with some of their friends.”
They did getaways with two other couples who also had trailers. Suire said they would all park together, grab some weenie roasts by the campfire, and eat the fish they caught that day.
The wreckage killed Charles and left Lucille seriously injured
On November 19, 1985, Lucille and Charles were driving to Ferriday to attend her father’s funeral.
A Town Talk article on the wreckage indicates Charles died in an accident on Highway 28 East “near the Esler Regional Airport exit.” Another car crossed the center line and hit them head-on. Charles was 65. Lucille, then 70 years old, had a broken femur and was seriously injured. She was hospitalized in intensive care at a hospital in Alexandria.
John Wayne and Suire asked friends to travel to Alexandria to stay with Lucille as they traveled to Port Arthur to bury Charles.
After returning to Alexandria, Lucille was transported by helicopter to Saint Mary’s Hospital in Beaumont, Texas, where she underwent surgery to repair her femur. She was able to leave after several weeks and continued her recovery with John Wayne and Suire. Doctors told her she would never walk again. After intensive therapy, she proved them wrong.
Lucille remarried in 1997 with Lewell Autrey, her high school sweetheart. They got to know each other after attending a meeting.
Lucille and Lew lived in Shreveport and also had a camp in Toledo Bend. Like Lucille, Lew loved to fish. They even drove to Alaska on a fishing trip when they were 80 years old.
As they got older, they moved into an assisted living facility in Beaumont. Lew died before Lucille, who lived to be 104 years old. She died in 2019 and is buried next to Charles in Groves.
The unsolved mystery always has a happy ending
How the ring ended up in Echo will always remain a mystery. Those who know the reason are gone.
Sharp believes the 14-karat gold ring was used for bartering or borrowing from his maternal grandparents.
Her eldest daughter, who she says is clairvoyant, wore the ring and told Sharp that she was not related to any family member and was used to bartering.
In one vision, her daughter allegedly saw two women having a conversation and a man in the background telling one of the women, “Yes, it’s okay to do that.”
Neither Jackson nor Suire were familiar with the engraved wedding ring, which was apparently the first ring. Charles and Lucille both had other wedding rings they wore.
“When I was in the family, Charlie had a gold ring with four big diamonds,” Surie said. “It was his wedding ring.”
Lucille wore two rings. The engagement ring had one large stone and two small stones while the wedding ring had four or five matching round stones.
“And that way, the typical 1940s and 1950s style wedding ring,” Suire said.
Some people would improve their alliances later in life when they could afford it, and it is assumed that this is what the Shultze did.
Jackson said he was a bit with Lucille in his later years and never mentioned the ring.
“It’s an interesting story,” he said. “It’s unclear how this story unfolded as far as the ring is concerned,” Jackson said.
Regarding the ring, he felt that Sharp had to do with whatever she wanted since the ring had been left with her family.
Sharp and Jackson spoke about the ring and speculated on how Sharp’s family ended up with the ring.
Now, by returning the legacy to the rightful family, Sharp has the happy ending she had hoped for.